A Kiss to Good Health - The Physical Benefits of Kissing

By Helen Holmes on August 23, 2012

Kissing doesn’t just improve emotional health. It also alleviates stress, strengthens immune resistance to allergens, lowers cholesterol levels, and more.

Kissing – it is the most common, most seen expression of love and adoration. For parent and child, kissing is a sign of respect and huge love. For colleagues, a kiss in the cheek is a more special way of saying ‘hello’. For lovers, kissing is the best way to say ‘I love you’.

It is not a secret that kissing does have emotional benefits particularly among people who are in intimate relationships. A kiss can satisfy a longing heart and calm down feelings of anger. But does the act of kissing also have physical benefits? This was the focus of study carried out by the researchers from Arizona State University, headed by Professor Kory Floyd. They wanted to know whether kissing does have tangible and measurable effects to physical health. And it turns out, it really does.

To come up with the results, the researchers conducted an experiment involving individuals ages 19-67. Half of the group were instructed to engage in longer kissing activities with their partners while the second group (which served as the control group), didn’t receive any instruction at all. Both of the groups didn’t know the purpose of the study. The goal of every couple in the first group was to kiss as frequently as possible, and at a longer time than they usually do. To make sure the participants were complying with the instructions; Prof Floyd himself sent emails to them every day and checked in with them via online questionnaires. The study lasted for 6 weeks.

What did the researchers find?

After the experiment, the kissing group reported they felt less stressed and became more satisfied with their relationships. Another interesting finding is that they also showed a decrease in bad cholesterol levels! A romantic dinner for two, with all the chocolates, cakes, and fatty salads may put a spike on the couple’s cholesterol levels but a long kissing after can just restore it back. And with lower cholesterol levels, there’s a lower risk of heart disease.

As compared to the control group, couples from the kissing group reported that they exercised more, argued less, and had a deeper understanding of each other.

Other physical benefits of kissing includes an improved resistance to allergens, better resistance to stress, and improvement in the parasympathetic nervous system – the control mechanism in the body that works when a person is in a calmer, more relaxed state. They also found that when couples exchange sebum (the skin’s natural oil) when kissing, chemical signals were sent to the brain that is linked with bonding and affection.

In another study conducted by Floyd, he investigated the effects of affection in a person’s stress levels. He found that individuals who rated themselves as being affectionate showed a more positive oxytocin response. Oxytocin, also called the ‘love hormone’ increases during sexual intercourse, kissing, hugging, and holding hands.

 

Source of this article:

Floyd, K., Boren, J. P., Hannawa, A. F., Hesse, C., McEwan, B., & Veksler, A. E. (2009). Kissing in marital and cohabiting relationships: Effects on blood lipids, stress, and relationship satisfaction. Western Journal of Communication, 73(2), 113-133. doi:10.1080/10570310902856071

Floyd, K., Pauley, P. M., & Hesse, C. (2010). State and trait affectionate communication buffer adults’ stress reactions. Communication Monographs, 77(4), 618-636. doi:10.1080/03637751.2010.498792

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